Now You’re Cookin’

by pieces of moments

One of the best things about being at From the Top for a few years is that it is long enough to watch the progression of the careers of students who appeared on our show and are now in college. One of those students, a cellist who now studies at my alma mater, New England Conservatory, with Paul Katz, recently won 1st in the senior division of the Sphinx Organization concerto competition (Sphinx is an amazing organization that promotes musical accomplishments of students of African-American and Latino decent, be sure to check out their website if you are not familiar with them). As part of his prize, he got to perform with the Boston Pops. So, tonight the Pops kindly offered us at FtT comp tickets so we could cheer on our alum, Tony Rymer.

So, to make a night of it, my friend Becki (a fabulously creative and very talented vocalist) and I went out for dinner and then moseyed over to Symphony Hall under the protection of her massive golf umbrella (no way you can feel the rain under that portable tent) as we passed the still empty reflecting pool in the Christian Science Plaza. That’s when it got even more awesome (I know, right?!).

We walk into Symphony Hall to find that our comp tickets put us at one of those fabulous little dinner tables complete with menus and order forms! Okay, so I had never been to the Pops before, but it was always on my list of things to do before I left Boston, and here I am weeks away from moving from this great city to another great city and I get my chance – for free – and I get to sit at one of those famous little tables! Woot! I used to watch those Boston Pops specials on PBS as a kid and always thought to myself, how fabulous to sit at a little table and have a beverage or snack while watching the show. Well, tonight, I got my childhood wish…and I had a hot cocoa inside Symphony Hall. Sweet.

The view from our table:


The show was pretty great, all in all. You know, it’s the Pops, so it’s…well..pop-y…with some John Williams (Summon the Heroes…remember that? Written for the Atlanta Olympic Games? Kerri Strug?! Gosh…I remember that vault…I was in NYC and freaking out by the TV), Haydn cello concerto (with Tony Rymer), Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, and Randy Newman’s Suite from The Natural rounding out the first half of the show. Then the amazing Barbara Cook, who was the original Cunégonde in Lenny Bernstein’s Candide, Marian the Librarian in The Music Man (for which she won a Tony), and Amalia in She Loves Me. Now, it’s not properly polite to throw around age as a topic of conversation, but I have to say that if I am as sprightly and delightful and still able to sing as well as Barbara Cook at age 81 I will be in the money. She still sounds amazing and she was boppin’ around the stage like nobodys business (eat that, Tina Turner!). She sang a lovely array of songs ranging including some by Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, Rodgers/Hammerstein, George Gershwin, Ray Charles, and more. It was so delightful to see people swaying around, sipping their beverages, smiling, and enjoying themselves as much as Barbara Cook, her jazz combo, and the Pops members were enjoying themselves. Bring on the concessions to the Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts, that’s what I say (they need something to boost morale…common, BSO! Wake up already!).

Here’s Ms. Cook working her thang on a Gershwin (yeah, that’s Gershwin, kidz, he had more in him that a few preludes and a rhapsody colored blue) song she sang tonight, too:

Also, check out this totally awesomely bootleg video I found of John Williams (a.k.a. “dude with the coolest job ever”) conducting the Pops when he made a return visit to his old podium a couple of years back…I like how it nearly functions as a Pops version of Britten’s Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra thanks to the way this bootlegger zooms in on each instrument group as they solo: